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Twists and turns out on hustings

By Will Chambre

Published 13/04/2016

David McNarry
David McNarry

It's been a busy seven days for the politicos here as the election campaign took more twists and turns with under four weeks to go.

First we had the launch of the DUP manifesto - which headlined with a £1bn spending commitment for the health service and concluded with a boob over the date Northern Ireland was established.

We don't know who was responsible for the typo, but it's safe to say that they won't be put in charge of booking this year's Christmas dinner.

Following closely behind the DUP (for the first and last time this election cycle), Ukip launched its election offering, promising to abolish tuition fees for Stem students as long as they work in the UK for five years.

It's a nice idea in principle but it might be a bit tough to enforce. After all, David McNarry isn't a young man anymore and patrolling the UK's entry points to tackle graduates trying to escape early may be too much even for him.

It was then the SDLP's turn, although the launch of its manifesto had to compete for attention with the resignation of two councillors in west Tyrone. Councillors Kelly and Deehan cited cronyism within the party when tendering their resignations, before announcing they would both stand as independents in May's election.

It was a less than perfect start to Colum Eastwood's first campaign at the head of the party, but it is something he'll have to get used to.

With the threat of apathy all too real the challenge now for aspiring MLAs is to somehow engage voters' interest. One novel approach may be a dedicated radio show where Assembly hopefuls sing about their campaign.

Party leaders could yell out Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer, while tired candidates give us an insight into their nightly canvassing efforts with a rendition of Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark. More likely the parties will be looking at the polls and singing Beyonce's Who Knows.

Except for Mr Eastwood, of course, who - after his misfortunes with party members in west Tyrone - may give us a verse of Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Will Chambre is a public affairs consultant

Belfast Telegraph

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